After a very disappointing Sunday round at the Outback Tournament in Tampa, I had a wonderful reprieve back in North Carolina playing the new Crenshaw designed, Pinehurst #2. I could feel the authentic transformation back into a time when the course was just being played, with all the sandy soil butting up right to the fairways, economy of water use, along with greens with the proper Bermuda grass where the contours have been softened. What I truly liked was the lack of all the modern grooming around the fairways, which brings quite a bit of
luck as well as skill to extricate yourself from tough sandy lies that you might encounter. What was amazing was that all the sprinkler systems were removed except one that ran like a serpentine snake right down the middle of each fairway. I guess where the water reaches the grass will grow and the rest of the vegetation, which is native to the North Carolina sand hills will be hearty or die leaving only sand. Also, what was very interesting and took me back to when I played the course in the early 70’s, was the leveling of the teeing grounds to the fairway, thereby, taking the course back to its 1895 configuration. Only a few tees were built up higher than the fairways, for example # 11, which is a wonderful hole, I think Hogan put it in his top 18, they brought up the teeing ground to make the hole longer. What was amazing is that I remember as a boy looking at that hole from ground level, so even with the elevation change the hole had its original look. I really liked that aspect of the course. Number 14 was and is probably the one hole that has changed the least of all the holes from the original design. The hole has always been such a great hole that fewer changes were always needed, which gives you the feeling that you are playing a hole that Sam Snead would have played just as it was from the early part of the twentieth century. Golf need this to bring continuity into the game to ensure that the history of the courses has some timelessness, similarly to how the old courses in Scotland and England have endured through all the hundreds of years giving you the feeling that golf has a wonderful history and that sometimes change is not always for the better. One last thing I I think people will enjoy is that the teeth of the course will once again be the subtle contours of the greens, where there are lots of hole locations on every green giving the course as great a challenge as you need for a US Open championship.
Also, my good friend Steve Stuart from New York brought along a few friends to Pinehurst. We were able to play Forest Creek, which is a new modern course with all the high pitched, contoured greens with grooming down along the whole fairway. This allows players to have a really good time playing day to day, which is quite a contrast to Pinehurst Number 2. Tom Fazio designs truly great courses that allow you to feel really rewarded with a perfect drive that catches the slot line down the fairway maximizing the roll. Forest Creek has this in spades, which makes for a lot of fun. Needless to say, my friend Steve out drove me numerous time, sometimes up to 15 yards, which really made him feel so good commensurate to how bad I felt getting out driven that far. We had numerous close calls where Steve called it a truce, because I think measuring from the tee he got me, no doubt. So thanks Steve for being so benevolent. Everyone will enjoy Forest Creek. Tom Fazio used the terrain so beautifully.
The one thing that was disappointing was not getting eating authentic eastern North Carolina barbeque, my favorite! Steve also likes it, however, the Pik N Pig restaurant was closed on Monday night. We were told it has the best vinegar based barbeque in the state, so I’m going to mark that one down and get there over Christmas when I visit my family in Fayetteville.
Since my last blog, I spent a day at Cypress Lakes in Fayetteville helping raise money for the Friends Of The Children Foundation which raises money for the Cape Fear Valley Hospital allowing children to have proper housing and various other niceties while they go through surgery or treatment. I enjoyed helping the LB Floyd tournament raise money in his honor along with getting to have a wonderful night with my family. I’m so happy my mother is doing so well. So until next time may all your putts drop and hope your had a Happy Easter. Chip